In four little words, divine judgment was pronounced
against Belshazzar, who had set
himself up against the
Most High God. The pronouncement consists, however, of three
Aramaic words, since one is repeated. In our script, the
writing looks like MN’MN’TKLUPRSUN, and with the words
separated and vowels added, it reads MENE MENE TEKEL UPARSIN.
In his interpretation, Daniel dropped the conjunction “U” and
the plural ending of “IN” from the last word and made it
Some commentators have attempted to make these words
stand for “a mina, a shekel and two half-minas.”
Literally, the writing means “to
number,” “to weigh,”
and “to divide.” Therein resides a cryptic message, which
Daniel decoded and revealed.
God has numbered the days of your reign and
brought it to an end. MENE indicates that Belshazzar’s and
Babylon’s numbers are up! God’s calculations are not
carelessly arrived at—duration of the king’s life and
empire’s existence is perfectly timed and not left to
chance (Daniel 2:21; 4:17).
You have been weighed on the scales and
found wanting. It indicates God’s scales are accurate,
exact and just. The king is lacking righteousness.
Your kingdom is divided and given to the
Medes and Persians. PARSIN (PERES) has a double sense.
Daniel discerns the kingdom will be given to the Medes and
Persians and afterwards be broken up.
Belshazzar had been found too light in moral and
spiritual worth to balance God’s scales—the standard being
righteousness. Numbered, counted out and measured—weighed
and divided, the king is found deficient by God. The
scales of God are accurate, exact, just and fair. Abraham
recognized these things about God, when He said to the
Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the
righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the
wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of
all the earth do right? (Genesis
Why did Babylon fall? Its time was up! The period that
God allotted to Babylon had been revealed by the head of
gold in the Dream of Dreams. The predicted seventy years
of captivity for the Jews was ending (Jeremiah 29:10).
Having challenged God’s patience and having passed His
deadline for repentance, Belshazzar would be plunged into
There is a last night for every nation and there is a
last night for every individual. God rules; He determines
the times and boundaries of the nations, and every person
is utterly dependent upon God for his or her next breath.
With the unexpectedness of a thief, the Babylonian Empire
and Belshazzar’s life ended that night. Everyone should
take to heart Yahweh’s warning to Israel.
Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and
because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O
Israel (Amos 4:12).